Stuck between shame and chagrin, the Swedish Nobel Peace Prize Committee has for the first time in human history reversed a past Peace Prize selection. With high drama this week, the Committee notified President Obama his misguided 2009 Prize has been formally rescinded, requesting the $1.4 million payoff be returned.
"It's not about the money," conceded a press release, "we have a sacred obligation to protect the honor of humanitarian-arms maker Alfred Nobel. Plus, there's the reputation of incendiary peacemakers like Henry Kissinger we need to steadfastly preserve. Sadly, we are forced to conclude that since his '09 award ceremony Obama has definitively qualified as the world's greatest, pre-emptive warmonger. Frankly, outgunning Bush, with three new discretionary wars, fails to satisfy our notion of peacemaking. Never before has any winner -- after the fact and in only two years -- actually doubled his war production. It's a record we profoundly hope never to be duplicated, forcing this singular withdrawal."
Apparently, killing civilians with unmanned predatory drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya pushed the Committee over the line. "Unlike Obama or Bush, we Swedes admit blunders," explained Bjorn Bjorn, "Obama's soaring rhetoric must have come with magic dust because we, too, got enthralled by promises of new world co-operation. What were we thinking? Instead of ending warfare and violence, Obama began to notch his Bush-warrior credibility in Afghanistan. We regret that our Prize may well have provided cover for new assaults and invasions. The only good news is the 'world's self-appointed police force' hasn't yet struck Iran or North Korea."
Periodically, the Nobel Committee selections have invited strong reaction, Bjorn continued, "like selecting hard-line, Vietnam cold warrior Henry Kissinger, but never before have we honored a leader entranced with unilateral, pre-emptive civilian bombings. What's the credo here, "All we are saying is give war a chance"?
A King but No Peaceable Kingdom
In short, the Committee apologized to the world for one of history's most premature, if not ironic awards, initially praising Obama for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Bjorn added, "This leader can't reconcile his own citizens on the time of day, let alone boast one diplomatic victory, even a call for truce. We are astonished by the magnitude of America's belligerence and its utter futility -- squandering soldiers, civilians and $3 trillion to manager one backwater PR win -- assassinating bin Laden."
The historic ironies to this turnabout are rife, as the Nobel Prize was funded by one Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite hugely enriched, in one contemporary phrase, "by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever." Shocked by fears of a legacy of disgrace, a guilty "merchant of death" endowed the most prestigious peace, literature and science awards.
The prize reversal comes as even a greater shock than the enormous initial surprise, to which the very recipient himself declared surprised. "Heck, I just got here," a senior staffer heard him say at the time, "and I get kudos for devising good campaign rhetoric and not being Bush or McCain. There's still that 'dumb' Iraq war to end, then Afghanistan to restart, and the Pentagon's all over me with new offers."